What you need to know about tax-free weekend to get the best deals

CLEVELAND -

Back-to-school shopping can be a major pain in your pocketbook. The state of Ohio will hold its tax-free weekend starting tomorrow through Sunday for school supplies and some clothing. Before you rush out, though, here’s what all parents need to know about the tax-free holiday.

"I work in a homeless shelter and the in a homeless shelter there's a great need,” said Michele Johnson from Lakewood. She has a special idea in mind for this year's back-to-school shopping. "Children that are starting back to school, the families…they don't have the money," Johnson told us.

She'll be snatching up school supplies like all the other parents, but she'll be donating her purchases to the shelter. "Every little bit helps," she told us. And that's how she feels about Ohio bringing back the tax-free weekend.

Any single school supply item including instructional material that's $20 or less and any single piece of clothing $75 or less will not be taxed Friday through Sunday.

"And less expensive, we are happy as parents. We are really happy,” said shopper Loselyn Anya with her 7th grader and 8th grader standing next to her. They’re digging the idea and so is Amanda Akin from Discount Drug Mart. "Anything helps. I mean you're getting five glue sticks. I mean, it's a couple of dollars but everything adds up quickly,” Akin told us.

The key is to double up on the deals. For example, do the buy-one-get-one-free sale and that's on top of tax-free savings.

"It's a fantastic opportunity as long as you know what you're doing,” said Dr. Elad Granot. He’s the Dean of the College of Business and Economics at Ashland University.

He said if your sole objective is to save money, then do your homework. Grab your school's list of supplies that you need and price everything out on the internet and in sale ads.

"You'll be able to compare whatever you found online or in other stores and then buy anything that is actually cheaper for you to buy rather than just a one-stop-shop,” said Dr. Granot.

If you one-stop-shop, you'll probably end up getting items that are not on sale and/or items that don't qualify for tax-free savings. That means overall you won't be saving much if anything.

"The state actually makes more money off of the stuff that we buy that is not exempt from taxes that day,” Dr. Granot told us. “So, it turns out for the state, it is a nice thing to do for us consumers but they're not really losing any money on us."

So, be a smart shopper, plan ahead. Plus, take Johnson's advice. "Don't forget the coupons, too,” she said with a laugh.

The consumer benefit this weekend means a discount of 5.75% to 8% depending on where you buy your qualifying items.

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